A comment I saw recently that I really liked was “We still obsess about ‘ball carriers’ instead of ‘ball players'”. This back row selection paled by comparison with the original 2011 selection of O’Brien, Heaslip, Ferris, Leamy and David Wallace (who of course missed out through injury). They didn’t lack for effort but couldn’t bring the same impact as that quintet in their pomp. Continue reading
Amidst no small dollop of carping and moaning about what a pain in the arse it was, we mentioned at the end of the last Ruck Marks article that we’d try and run a similar exercise using Ireland’s November tests as our subjects. We surprised ourselves by actually carrying this through [just like we carried through our tag index … all the way up to ‘D’] with a Boxeresque appetite for dumb labour. Continue reading
About four or five months ago, The Mole became interested in finding a way to analyse and attribute value to the work done by each player at ruck and breakdown. Continue reading
The argument was made to The Mole recently that Clermont have missed their chance to win the Heineken Cup, with a number of their most prominent players having passed their prime. Continue reading
Roger Wilson: since making his debut for Ulster as a 21-year old in September 2002, the Belfast-born No8 has played an enormous amount of professional rugby. In five seasons with Ulster he played 116 games [101 starts] and since moving to Northampton at the end of the 2007-08 season he hasn’t let up, playing 117 games [108 starts] for the Saints. In total, he has played 46 Heineken Cup games, all but one of them from kick-off.
How many tests for Ireland has he played? One. Against Japan. Seven years ago. Continue reading
Many moons ago, when the Mole was a nipper and student transport offered only two options – the heel-toe express or the push bike – to get to training or school or any of the other ‘priorities’ of our young lives, he learned all about the linchpin. Uniquely shaped [square at the top and tapering smoothly within its two inches to a round threaded base], the linchpin connected the crank-arm of the pedal through the centre of the big cogs of the front chain ring to the joint of the frame where the seat tube met the down tube. It seemed insignificant in the overall use of a bicycle: it wasn’t a wheel which covered the ground, and it wasn’t a pedal which took the weight. But without a linchpin, the bike wouldn’t go. You couldn’t apply power and you couldn’t cover ground. Continue reading
It’s strange to say that somebody who’s only winning his second cap could teach somebody who has been to three World Cups and two Lions Tours a thing or two, but one of the odd pleasures of this second test was not seeing Paul O’Connell carry static, one-out ball into contact and go to ground. Brodie Retallick didn’t get on the ball much: he just went around charging into rucks and bashing things. Continue reading
After looking at Graham Henry’s Prefects and the ‘ideal’ number of caps (660) that a championship team should have, we thought we’d have a look at Ireland and how the numbers fitted the team. Can Graham Henry’s policy be replicated in other situations or is he simply fortunate to come from a country with a great rugby culture and a comparatively large player base?
Stephen Ferris: Bueller… anyone, Bueller? The injury plagued Ulster man rivals Luke Fitzgerald and the camera shy Donncha O’Callaghan for media utterances. It was his form in this World Cup that created the headlines. Ferris is a very talented athlete who hasn’t consistently produced at the international level. In this tournament he showed good ball skills as well as some feats of power that few players could match. His tackle on Genia was iconic while his hit on Castrogiovanni brought the battle to the Italians. The Welsh stopped him with some great tackles and stopped Ireland. Continue reading